Deposing alleged paramours before filing to terminate alimony

In South Carolina even adultery that occurs during the marital dissolution litigation period is sufficient to terminate alimony.  Further adultery can be “proven” through circumstantial evidence by showing both inclination and opportunity to commit adultery.  These two facts contribute to the high utilization of private detectives in South Carolina divorce cases.

Yet even the most seemingly ironclad private investigator (PI) reports rarely lead to admissions of adultery.  Further, after any hearing on a request to terminate alimony based on alleged adultery which is primarily supported by the observations of the PI, the opposing party and the alleged paramour(s) will have access to the PI’s report.  They may then attempt to concoct explanations for their behavior that is consistent with the PI report but plausibly denies the adultery.  I call this “dancing around the holes in the PI report.”

There is a way of preventing such two-steps.  When I get a PI report, I typically notice the depositions of the alleged paramour(s) before even filing a motion to terminate alimony.  My experience is that these alleged paramours–forced to testify under the penalty of perjury and unaware of exactly what evidence my PI has uncovered–are move likely to admit the adultery than they would be if they were able to review the PI’s evidence prior to their deposition.  Further, even if such alleged paramours deny the adultery, it is much easier to catch them in outright lies if they don’t know what the PI knows.  One can use these lies at the subsequent motion to terminate alimony to bolster the adultery argument by showing the paramours have information worth hiding.

The temptation to rush in and terminate alimony as soon as one obtains a favorable PI report is hard to resist: the alimony-paying client is hemorrhaging money and wants the alimony to end ASAP.  However the risk of losing such a motion and then being less able to impeach the alleged paramours because they know what evidence they need to “dance around” to credibly deny the adultery is too significant.  One’s first act upon receiving a favorable PI report shouldn’t be moving to terminate alimony: it should be noticing the paramour(s) deposition.

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